Guest Post: From College to the Real World

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Posted by Taylor May on 04/25/2018

I graduated from the University of Oklahoma (BOOMER, SOONER!) in December 2016, and have been a full-time employee at the Edmond Economic Development Authority (EEDA), since January 2016. So, I’ve been playing the role of an adult for a little over a year now. I am fortunate that I absolutely love my job, but that doesn’t mean that going from college to the workforce has been easy—it was and sometimes still is hard. The adjustment from college coed to career woman left me tired all the time, missing my college friends from Norman, and on a completely different schedule. However, over time I was able to develop *somewhat* of a “workable” routine. This leads me to my first tip for people making similar life changes:

1)    Practice discipline

College, for me was a time when I tended to follow my whims—stay up late, eat out with friends, go shopping (with my parents’ money), cram a lot, panic, survive, take a nap, play, study, go to class, go to practices (I was on OU Cheer), go to games, repeat. OU Cheer provided the largest amount of discipline for me when I was in college, but I still had way more time on my hands compared to high school when I was in class from 8 A.M. to 3:30 PM followed by school cheer practice, competitive cheer practices, games, competitions and maintaining a social life and now I work from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. Monday through Friday. This season of full-time employment has inserted a BIG chunk of discipline into my life. I couldn’t function well at the job I loved if I binge-watched Netflix until 2 in the morning! I HAD to create a healthy routine for myself.

I began a regimen of going to bed and getting up at the same time. Melatonin helped with the inducement of rest, and the goal of going to work out before my job in the mornings made waking up easier—and the exercise helped get my heart pumping and my thoughts in order before work. Over time, I have noticed that this disciplined routine has reduced my stress and improved my organization. I hate to admit it, but being disciplined really does help with adulting.

 

2)    Get involved

 

As I previously mentioned, I desperately missed my college friends, and getting involved in the Edmond community has helped ease that a little. Plus, having professional friends, really is important. Getting involved in activities where you don’t really know anyone can be intimidating, and to be honest, it took a while before I was ready to take the step to getting involved in community activities (i.e., attending Edmond Young Professionals activities and events), but I am so happy I did. Start off small. I started going to the Lunch Bunch meetings, which I love because I love food. These Lunch Bunch meetings served as a springboard for a variety of other activities—Leadership Latte is always interesting, the Lunch and Learns are fun, and the community services opportunities are rewarding. I have noticed that the more regularly I attend, the more I notice the others who also regularly attend. I have made many friends whose names I actually remember, and that is exciting! Leadership Edmond was also an incredible experience; I met many awesome people and learned interesting facts about Edmond that I never knew.

3)    Exercise

There are so many options when it comes to exercising instead of just going to the “gym,” although as of now I am a gym goer before I made the decision to get a gym membership, I tried a lot of different types of classes. In fact, I still like trying new types of classes and different work-outs. Just last week a group of my friends and I all went a Jazzercise class and had so much fun. I have found that it is easier to try new classes if I drag a buddy with me because I get less intimidated, but also I have found that if I commit to going to a class with a friend, I am way less likely to cancel than if I tell myself I will go for a solo run after work (yeah right!). Luckily though, I have been practicing discipline, and work out in the morning and have no need to go for a run after work! Most gyms or exercise studios have promotions where the first class is free, so just try what you like before you make an expensive commitment. Gyms also offer classes, so if you get a gym membership take advantage of the classes!

4)    Budget and Save—

After I got my first paycheck, I was really tempted to go shopping and spend it right away. Instead, I enrolled in a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class, and I am so thankful that I did. I learned so many basic tips, tricks, and *recommended* habits to budget and try to remain debt free. For you, it might not be a Dave Ramsey class, but I definitely recommend sitting down with an experienced professional and developing a financial plan that fits your needs.

Take advantage of deals, specials, and coupons! I love finding good deals. It’s so exciting for me, and I immediately want to share such specials with everyone. For example, the Zu has tons of specials: My favorite is Taco Tuesday ($5 for two great tacos, chips, and salsa) or Steak Thursday ($9.95 for salad, a nice steak, and baked potato). Other places have specials as well. I try to follow as many restaurants and retailers as possible on social media because that is where I learn about great specials, events, and sales. Again, the idea of being disciplined—this time with respect to spending money—seriously makes life easier in the long run. This is really hard because weighing wants against needs creates many dilemmas.

5)    Community Service—

By being a part of Edmond Young Professionals and going through Leadership Edmond, I have learned about really cool community service opportunities in the Edmond community. There are SO MANY. Find a cause that touches your heart because passion will cause you to be more committed. This past year, and honestly more-so, these past couples of months, I have felt most drawn to causes dealing with relieving hunger. The EEDA regularly volunteers at Edmond Mobile Meals and helping prepare food for the elderly and home-bound has been really rewarding. I also have begun volunteering regularly on my own at Project 66, a program that allows needy, qualified people to shop for their own groceries at the Project 66 pantry, and I truly love it. My goal right now is to serve bi-monthly. In this capacity, I get to meet new people and help with a cause that I am passionate about.

 

I hope that these tips might give you encouragement on the transition from college to the work-force. Also, recognize that being an adult does have its perks, like no homework or tests, and paid vacation!!

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